NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 1 Game Recap: Los Angeles Chargers 20, Washington Football Team 16

Sep 12, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) runs with the ball as Washington Football Team linebacker Jon Bostic (53) chases in the second quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Chargers and Justin Herbert closed out their Week 1 contest with a beautiful 15-play, 82-yard drive, securing a 20-16 victory over the Washington Football Team.

In a game with plenty of defensive line talent, Joey Bosa stood out above the rest. He played up to his reputation as one of the league’s best pass-rushers, regularly winning his matchup with rookie tackle Samuel Cosmi.


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LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Quarterback

Justin Herbert’s day lacked the big plays we grew accustomed to seeing during his rookie season, but he peppered the intermediate range — 10-19 yards downfield.

Herbert passing by depth
Depth Comp/Att Yards TD/INT
9 yards or less 20 / 24 138 1 / 0
10-19 downfield 10 / 18 179 0 / 1
20+ downfield 1 / 3 20 0 / 0

Herbert was also excellent on third down, completing 13 of 16 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown in such situations.

Running Back

There was some doubt about Austin Ekeler’s availability this week, but he took the lion’s share of the snaps against Washington. He saw 15 carries on 46 snaps. Larry Rountree III and Justin Jackson combined for 28 snaps and nine carries.

Ekeler was notably absent in the passing game, however. He wasn’t targeted on any of his 26 routes. 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Player Routes Targets Yards
Keenan Allen 40 13 100
Mike Williams 41 12 82
Jared Cook 30 8 56
Jalen Guyton 35 5 49

Herbert spread the ball around in the passing game. Each of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jared Cook and Jalen Guyton received five or more targets in the game. Allen and Williams led the way with 13 and 12, respectively. 

Guyton was operating as the clear WR3 ahead of rookie Josh Palmer. He ran 35 routes compared to just eight for Palmer. 

Offensive Line

The offensive line held up fairly well in this test against one of the NFL’s best defensive lines. Herbert was under pressure on only five of his 49 dropbacks in the game, pending review. 

Rashawn Slater was credited with a clean slate in pass protection in his NFL debut, per PFF’s first-run analysis. He allowed zero pressures on 49 pass-blocking snaps. 

Defensive Line

Joey Bosa made his way into the backfield with regularity in this game. He notched only four pressures, per PFF’s first-run analysis, but he tallied an additional five pass-rushing wins without pressure.

Uchenna Nwosu also had a pair of quarterback hits on the other side, splitting time with Kyler Fackrell.

Linebackers

Kenneth Murray and Kyzir White were the only linebackers to see significant action for Los Angeles in the game. White forced a big fumble to set up a Chargers touchdown — one of five tackles for him in the game.   

Defensive Backs

Derwin James was active in his debut in Brandon Staley’s defense. He finished the game with seven tackles and a pass breakup that could have been an interception, lining up in the slot on 18 of his 49 defensive snaps. 

Los Angeles' secondary allowed just 100 passing yards combined in coverage over the course of the game.

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

Quarterback

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for just 13 yards on eight dropbacks before exiting the game with an injury. He was pressured on five of those dropbacks, according to PFF’s first-run analysis. 

Taylor Heinicke had slightly more success late, completing three of five passes thrown 10 or more yards downfield and 11 of 15 passes overall. 

Running Back
Player Carries Routes Targets
Antonio Gibson 20 13 5
J.D. McKissic 1 12 0
Jaret Patterson 2 1 0

Antonio Gibson saw almost all of the rushing work, and though he split action with J.D. McKissic in the passing game, Gibson was the only one who saw a target.

Even if his fumble set up the game-winning touchdown for Los Angeles, Gibson saw good usage, which is encouraging from a fantasy football perspective. 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Dyami Brown stepped in for the injured Curtis Samuel at outside wide receiver for Washington. He ran the second-most routes outside on the team (12), behind only Terry McLaurin (17). 

Brown and McLaurin also led all wide receivers and tight ends in targets with four each. 

Offensive Line

Rookie tackle Samuel Cosmi drew one of the toughest pass protection matchups in the league against Joey Bosa, and Bosa got the better of him. Cosmi will likely be Washington’s lowest-graded offensive lineman in pass protection after grades are finalized.

Defensive Line

Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat both recorded sacks, but it was a quiet performance overall for Washington’s star-studded defensive line. No one finished the game with more than two pressures despite Herbert dropping back to pass 49 times, pending review. 

Linebackers

Cole Holcomb (78 snaps) and Jon Bostic (65 snaps) both out-snapped first-round rookie Jamin Davis (44 snaps). Holcomb recorded 11 total tackles without a miss in the game. 

Defensive Backs
Player Coverage snaps Yards allowed Combined PBU + INT
William Jackson III 43 13 2
Kendall Fuller 44 63 0
Benjamin St-Juste 31 76 0

Benjamin St-Juste and Kendall Fuller were Herbert’s targets of choice, combining to allow 129 passing yards into their coverage. Fuller moved back into the slot (game-high 19 coverage snaps) after playing primarily out wide in 2020. 

By comparison, free-agent acquisition William Jackson III was charged with just 13 passing yards into his coverage, and he came away with an interception and a pass breakup.

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